first we know of Minnehaha Creek (pronounced “crick”), is in
May 1822, when two 17-year old boys, William J. Snelling,
the son of Colonel Snelling, and Joseph Renshaw Brown, a
drummer boy from Maryland, followed the creek up to Lake
Minnetonka. Snelling couldn't take the mosquitoes and headed
back, but Brown and two soldiers from the fort made it all
the way, past Indian settlements, up to Gray's Bay and Big
Island, where they encountered a Chippewa village.
Although their 1823 map inaccurately described the course of
the creek, they are thought to be the first white men to
leave a record of having passed through the area, which was
to become St. Louis Park. For years afterwards, the creek
was known as Joe Brown's River; in 1853, surveyor Jesse T.
Jarrett called it Brown's Creek.
Mills were built on the Creek (also called Little Falls
Creek), which was much more powerful than it is today. The
mill closest to St. Louis Park was
(1874), located off of Excelsior Blvd. at about Powell Road by the Hopkins
border. Also nearby was the
Waterville Mill (1857), located at 50th and Browndale in Edina. A note in the 1894 Mail newspaper
described the water in Minnehaha Creek as "so high that the
falls here quite rival that of the Minnehaha." But a dam was
built in 1895 at Grays Bay (Lake Minnetonka), the source of the Creek,
lowering the water level and dooming all of the creek's
mills. Foster W. Dunwiddie wrote an article about the
Six Flouring Mills on
Minnehaha Creek for the Spring 1975 issue of
Some of the first settlers built homes along the Creek, and
in the Brookside neighborhood, people built summer cottages
when the land was first platted in 1907. Creekside property
is still sought after today, and many smaller homes that
back on to the Creek are often supersizing their homes or
tearing them down and starting over with bigger houses. The
photo below is of Kay Fox Bevan at the point where Brookside
Ave. and Yosemite Ave. meet. It was probably taken in
The creek also ran by present-day Knollwood. Here's a
picture taken by the Ruedlingers, probably in the 1920s or
Back in the early days of the Park, local boys swam
(sometimes without benefit of trunks) at "Mosquito Point," a
spot where the Creek ran through the swamp west of the
MN&Southern tracks. Between the two bridges the creek made a
right angle turn and formed a rather large pond area, with
water 5 or 6 ft. deep. Older kids swam at a place known as
the Mud Hole, although if the girls were swimming at one
place, the boys would go to another.
In July 1917, the Commercial Club looked into dredging
the Creek and creating a bathhouse and a beach. A dam was
built at Mosquito Point and two bathhouses were erected with
lumber and nails provided by Mr. McCarthy and
Lumber. The creek has since been straightened out and
Mosquito Point is no more.
The June 9, 1945 issue of the St. Louis Park Spectator
To Confer on 'Haha Creek Conservation
Further plans for the preservation of
the shores of Minnehaha Creek in rural Hennepin County
will be made at a conference to be held at the office of
Chester Wilson, state conservation commissioner, at 1
a.m., Tuesday when a delegation consisting of Mayor O.B.
Erickson of St. Louis Park, Mayor T.L. Todd of Edina a
members of the Board of County Commissioners will confer
with the conservation commissioner on the subject.
In 1949, the County dredged the creek at 4240 Colorado Ave.
“for bathing beach and park purposes.” This remains vacant
land owned by the City.
On December 7, 1953, Mr. G.A. Morse of the Hopkins Terminal,
Inc. explained to the Council how he wanted to change the
course of the creek north of Excelsior and east of St. Louis
Park. He showed the council the proposed new course, and was
told to consult with Village Engineer Phil W. Smith so that
he would be informed as to what was being proposed.
In 1954 comes an approval of the State Conservation
Commission of proposed changes to the SW ¼ of the NW ¼ of
Section 20. The Commission considered the change to be “a
desirable improvement for the property in the area
In 1954, the Village asked the County to dredge the creek at
4240 Colorado Ave. as they had done in 1949, but the County
refused. The refusal seemed unfair, as the County had just
dredged Crystal Lake.
In 1968, L.M. Canfield of the Isaac Walton League appeared
before the City Council and complained about dumping in the
creek. The Council ordered the Parks and Recreation
Commission to study the creek and made recommendations.
They also authorized the City to test for pollution.
The creek was dredged in about 1971.
The Mudcat dredged the creek starting October 6, 1981. The
Mudcat was designed for dredging lakes and had to be
re-anchored several times a week on the creek. The $12,000
cost was picked up by the city (10 percent), the watershed
district (30 percent) and property owners along the creek
In 2008-09, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, in
partnership with Methodist Hospital, restored one section o the creek
channel and the surrounding wetland
area. The channel was relocated to the northeast and
created seven deep, flowing curves (meanders) to restore the
straightened portion of the creek.
Here's a site that shows
pictures of all the bridges over the creek in St. Louis
Park and Edina by John A. Weeks III.
1960 Photo courtesy Emory Anderson
In 2012, plans were made to restore a 3,000-foot stretch of
the creek, which had been the site of dumping. The
site is between Louisiana Ave. and Meadowbrook Road,
upstream from the section that was restored in 2008-09.
The project will be funded by $300,000 from a Clean Water
Legacy grant from the State, with the remaining $800,000
coming from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. See
Seth Rowe's article in the
Sun Sailor and Tom Meersman's article in the
StarTribune. Freezing temperatures in the winter
of 2012-13 allowed work to begin, as bulldozers and trucks
cleared away trees without sinking into the swamp.